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Gene Review

Ubx  -  Ultrabithorax

Drosophila melanogaster

Synonyms: BX-C, Bxl, CG10388, Cbx, DUbx, ...
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Disease relevance of Ubx


High impact information on Ubx


Chemical compound and disease context of Ubx

  • We find that after high and persistent levels of Ubx product, the head is replaced by three (C1, C2 and C3) abdominal-like denticle belts [9].

Biological context of Ubx

  • We find that whether or not the overexpression of Ubx has a developmental effect on a particular body region of the larva depends on the interactions with the resident homeotic genes [10].
  • Normal enhancer function requires positive regulation by Ubx and negative regulation by abd-A [11].
  • By generating complementary alterations of the binding sites and the binding specificity of UBX, we show that Ubx directly regulates dpp expression [11].
  • In early embryonic development, Ubx expression is controlled by segmentation genes turned on earlier in the developmental hierarchy [12].
  • Here, by using classical genetics and double-stranded RNA-mediated gene silencing in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum, a species that develops an appendage on the first abdominal segment, we investigate the roles of Ubx and Abd-A in abdominal limb development [13].

Anatomical context of Ubx

  • In a branchiopod crustacean, Ubx/AbdA proteins are expressed in both thorax and abdomen, including the limb primordia, but do not repress limbs [14].
  • We conclude that dpp both responds to and regulates Ubx in ps7 of the visceral mesoderm and that Ubx autoregulation within this tissue may be indirect as it requires more components than have previously been thought [15].
  • Furthermore, targeted ectopic expression of Ubx or abd-A indicates that these homeotic genes influence muscle cell fates by autonomous action in mesodermal cells [16].
  • CONCLUSIONS: The specific requirement for abd-A and not Ubx in gonad development does not reflect differences in the properties of the proteins that these genes encode, but presumably reflects differences in their regulation [17].
  • Thus, in contrast to its role in Drosophila segmentation, En does not require the co-factors Exd or Ubx/Abd-A in order to control the synaptic specificity of cockroach sensory neurons [18].

Associations of Ubx with chemical compounds

  • The model is also capable of dealing with a complicated genetic situation, a hybrid gene of Ubx and abd-A produced by the C1 deletion [19].
  • We have mapped, at high resolution, the distribution of Polycomb protein on the bithorax complex of Drosophila tissue culture cells, using an improved formaldehyde cross-linking and immunoprecipitation technique [20].
  • Finally, the steroid hormone ecdysone controls cardiac tube remodelling by impinging on both the regulation of Ubx expression and the modification of AbdA function [21].
  • Class I alleles, including Ubl, C4, C11, JH1, and WJK2, enhance Ubx when heterozygous with class II alleles, which include wild-type RpII215 [22].
  • Our analyses of mutants that lack the PcG histone methyltransferase (HMTase) E(z) or the trxG HMTase Ash1 provide strong evidence that differential histone lysine trimethylation at the promoter and in the coding region confers transcriptional ON and OFF states of Ubx [23].

Physical interactions of Ubx

  • Control of the expression of the bithorax complex genes abdominal-A and abdominal-B by cis-regulatory regions in Drosophila embryos [24].
  • The Drosophila bithorax complex Abdominal-B (Abd-B) gene specifies parasegmental identity at the posterior end of the fly [25].
  • We find that in the absence of the bithorax complex (BX-C) genes there is Scr expression in the epidermis of the posterior compartments of the thoracic and abdominal parasegments [26].
  • The three Hox genes of the Bithorax Complex as well as Antennapedia (Antp) have been shown to be expressed in the posterior cardiac tube, while no Hox gene is expressed in the anterior aorta [27].
  • We also provide evidence that Ubx and exd bind to neighboring sites on this DNA and interact directly to stabilize the DNA-bound form of Ubx [28].
  • Absence of endogenous Ubx transcription when Ubx levels are highly elevated probably activates Polycomb complexes on a Polycomb response element located in the Ubx major intron [29].

Enzymatic interactions of Ubx


Regulatory relationships of Ubx

  • We also show that eve represses expression from the Ubx promoter in Drosophila tissue culture cells, again in a binding site-dependent manner [31].
  • We conclude that hb represses Ubx expression directly by binding to BRE and probably other Ubx regulatory elements [12].
  • In the abdominal cuticle Scr is prevented from inducing prothoracic structures by the three bithorax complex (BX-C) homeotic genes [32].
  • In contrast, abd-A represses Ubx expression in the heart and ectopic overexpression of abd-A transforms aorta cells into heart cardiomyocytes [33].
  • Trithorax regulates multiple homeotic genes in the bithorax and Antennapedia complexes and exerts different tissue-specific, parasegment-specific and promoter-specific effects on each [34].

Other interactions of Ubx

  • Here we assess the functional significance of some of these interactions by expressing the Antp, Ubx or both homoeotic genes under the control of the heat-shock promoter [35].
  • Binding of trithorax and Polycomb proteins to the bithorax complex: dynamic changes during early Drosophila embryogenesis [36].
  • In addition, we have identified the minimal fragments from the Ultrabithorax (Ubx) regulatory region that are capable of recruiting TRX to chromosomal sites containing them [36].
  • The repressor of the anterior Ubx expression is the gap gene hunchback (hb) [12].
  • Footprint analysis and tests in transformed embryos of constructs bearing mutated footprint regions suggest that ftz protein acts directly as a transcriptional activator of Ubx [37].
  • We further demonstrate that Ubx executes this role by counteracting the function of Antp in promoting cell survival [38].

Analytical, diagnostic and therapeutic context of Ubx

  • There are multiple BX-C elements that mediate Pc group control, which we call Pc group response elements (PREs), and they can work when removed from the normal BX-C context [39].
  • Whole mount in situ hybridization of embryos of various ages demonstrates that during early development this gene has temporally and spatially restricted patterns of expression that resemble those of the homoeotic genes of the Drosophila bithorax complex and of many vertebrate homoeobox genes [40].
  • In the wild type, the Bithorax Complex forms a weak point featuring thinner bands separated by clefts or constrictions [41].
  • In the work reported here we have undertaken a functional dissection of a Polycomb response element (PRE) from the iab-7 cis-regulatory domain of the Drosophila melanogaster bithorax complex (BX-C) [42].
  • Coimmunoprecipitations show that ESCL associates with E(Z) in postembryonic cells and chromatin immunoprecipitations show that ESCL tracks closely with E(Z) on Ubx regulatory DNA in wing discs [43].


  1. An Ultrabithorax protein binds sequences near its own and the Antennapedia P1 promoters. Beachy, P.A., Krasnow, M.A., Gavis, E.R., Hogness, D.S. Cell (1988) [Pubmed]
  2. Activity regulation of Hox proteins, a mechanism for altering functional specificity in development and evolution. Li, X., McGinnis, W. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1999) [Pubmed]
  3. Physical and genetic interactions link hox function with diverse transcription factors and cell signaling proteins. Bondos, S.E., Tan, X.X., Matthews, K.S. Mol. Cell Proteomics (2006) [Pubmed]
  4. Ultrabithorax gene expression in Drosophila imaginal discs and larval nervous system. Brower, D.L. Development (1987) [Pubmed]
  5. Ectopic gene expression and homeotic transformations in arthropods using recombinant Sindbis viruses. Lewis, D.L., DeCamillis, M.A., Brunetti, C.R., Halder, G., Kassner, V.A., Selegue, J.E., Higgs, S., Carroll, S.B. Curr. Biol. (1999) [Pubmed]
  6. Probing long-distance regulatory interactions in the Drosophila melanogaster bithorax complex using Dam identification. Cléard, F., Moshkin, Y., Karch, F., Maeda, R.K. Nat. Genet. (2006) [Pubmed]
  7. LEF-1, a nuclear factor coordinating signaling inputs from wingless and decapentaplegic. Riese, J., Yu, X., Munnerlyn, A., Eresh, S., Hsu, S.C., Grosschedl, R., Bienz, M. Cell (1997) [Pubmed]
  8. Segmental expression of Hoxb-1 is controlled by a highly conserved autoregulatory loop dependent upon exd/pbx. Pöpperl, H., Bienz, M., Studer, M., Chan, S.K., Aparicio, S., Brenner, S., Mann, R.S., Krumlauf, R. Cell (1995) [Pubmed]
  9. Organization of the Drosophila head as revealed by the ectopic expression of the Ultrabithorax product. González-Reyes, A., Morata, G. Development (1991) [Pubmed]
  10. The developmental effect of overexpressing a Ubx product in Drosophila embryos is dependent on its interactions with other homeotic products. González-Reyes, A., Morata, G. Cell (1990) [Pubmed]
  11. Direct regulation of decapentaplegic by Ultrabithorax and its role in Drosophila midgut morphogenesis. Capovilla, M., Brandt, M., Botas, J. Cell (1994) [Pubmed]
  12. The bx region enhancer, a distant cis-control element of the Drosophila Ubx gene and its regulation by hunchback and other segmentation genes. Qian, S., Capovilla, M., Pirrotta, V. EMBO J. (1991) [Pubmed]
  13. Distinct roles of the homeotic genes Ubx and abd-A in beetle embryonic abdominal appendage development. Lewis, D.L., DeCamillis, M., Bennett, R.L. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2000) [Pubmed]
  14. Hox protein mutation and macroevolution of the insect body plan. Ronshaugen, M., McGinnis, N., McGinnis, W. Nature (2002) [Pubmed]
  15. Cross regulation of decapentaplegic and Ultrabithorax transcription in the embryonic visceral mesoderm of Drosophila. Hursh, D.A., Padgett, R.W., Gelbart, W.M. Development (1993) [Pubmed]
  16. Muscle pattern diversification in Drosophila is determined by the autonomous function of homeotic genes in the embryonic mesoderm. Michelson, A.M. Development (1994) [Pubmed]
  17. The role of homeotic genes in the specification of the Drosophila gonad. Greig, S., Akam, M. Curr. Biol. (1995) [Pubmed]
  18. Co-factors and co-repressors of Engrailed: expression in the central nervous system and cerci of the cockroach, Periplaneta americana. Blagburn, J.M. Cell Tissue Res. (2007) [Pubmed]
  19. Modeling the regulation of the bithorax complex in Drosophila melanogaster: the phenotypic effects of Ubx, abd-A and Abd-B heterozygotic larvae, and a homozygous Ubx- abd A hybrid gene. Carratalá, M., Vernós, I., Ransom, R., Marco, R. Int. J. Dev. Biol. (1989) [Pubmed]
  20. Co-localization of Polycomb protein and GAGA factor on regulatory elements responsible for the maintenance of homeotic gene expression. Strutt, H., Cavalli, G., Paro, R. EMBO J. (1997) [Pubmed]
  21. Steroid-dependent modification of Hox function drives myocyte reprogramming in the Drosophila heart. Monier, B., Astier, M., Sémériva, M., Perrin, L. Development (2005) [Pubmed]
  22. Antagonistic interactions between alleles of the RpII215 locus in Drosophila melanogaster. Mortin, M.A., Kim, W.J., Huang, J. Genetics (1988) [Pubmed]
  23. Histone trimethylation and the maintenance of transcriptional ON and OFF states by trxG and PcG proteins. Papp, B., Müller, J. Genes Dev. (2006) [Pubmed]
  24. Control of the expression of the bithorax complex genes abdominal-A and abdominal-B by cis-regulatory regions in Drosophila embryos. Sánchez-Herrero, E. Development (1991) [Pubmed]
  25. The Fab-8 boundary defines the distal limit of the bithorax complex iab-7 domain and insulates iab-7 from initiation elements and a PRE in the adjacent iab-8 domain. Barges, S., Mihaly, J., Galloni, M., Hagstrom, K., Müller, M., Shanower, G., Schedl, P., Gyurkovics, H., Karch, F. Development (2000) [Pubmed]
  26. Normal and ectopic domains of the homeotic gene Sex combs reduced of Drosophila. Pelaz, S., Urquía, N., Morata, G. Development (1993) [Pubmed]
  27. Drosophila cardiac tube organogenesis requires multiple phases of Hox activity. Perrin, L., Monier, B., Ponzielli, R., Astier, M., Semeriva, M. Dev. Biol. (2004) [Pubmed]
  28. The DNA binding specificity of Ultrabithorax is modulated by cooperative interactions with extradenticle, another homeoprotein. Chan, S.K., Jaffe, L., Capovilla, M., Botas, J., Mann, R.S. Cell (1994) [Pubmed]
  29. Polycomb-dependent Ultrabithorax Hox gene silencing induced by high Ultrabithorax levels in Drosophila. Garaulet, D.L., Foronda, D., Calleja, M., Sánchez-Herrero, E. Development (2008) [Pubmed]
  30. Drosophila nipped-B protein supports sister chromatid cohesion and opposes the stromalin/Scc3 cohesion factor to facilitate long-range activation of the cut gene. Rollins, R.A., Korom, M., Aulner, N., Martens, A., Dorsett, D. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2004) [Pubmed]
  31. A purified Drosophila homeodomain protein represses transcription in vitro. Biggin, M.D., Tjian, R. Cell (1989) [Pubmed]
  32. Setting limits on homeotic gene function: restraint of Sex combs reduced activity by teashirt and other homeotic genes. Andrew, D.J., Horner, M.A., Petitt, M.G., Smolik, S.M., Scott, M.P. EMBO J. (1994) [Pubmed]
  33. Heart tube patterning in Drosophila requires integration of axial and segmental information provided by the Bithorax Complex genes and hedgehog signaling. Ponzielli, R., Astier, M., Chartier, A., Gallet, A., Thérond, P., Sémériva, M. Development (2002) [Pubmed]
  34. Trithorax regulates multiple homeotic genes in the bithorax and Antennapedia complexes and exerts different tissue-specific, parasegment-specific and promoter-specific effects on each. Breen, T.R., Harte, P.J. Development (1993) [Pubmed]
  35. Are cross-regulatory interactions between homoeotic genes functionally significant? González-Reyes, A., Urquia, N., Gehring, W.J., Struhl, G., Morata, G. Nature (1990) [Pubmed]
  36. Binding of trithorax and Polycomb proteins to the bithorax complex: dynamic changes during early Drosophila embryogenesis. Orlando, V., Jane, E.P., Chinwalla, V., Harte, P.J., Paro, R. EMBO J. (1998) [Pubmed]
  37. Sharp anterior boundary of homeotic gene expression conferred by the fushi tarazu protein. Müller, J., Bienz, M. EMBO J. (1992) [Pubmed]
  38. Antagonistic roles for Ultrabithorax and Antennapedia in regulating segment-specific apoptosis of differentiated motoneurons in the Drosophila embryonic central nervous system. Rogulja-Ortmann, A., Renner, S., Technau, G.M. Development (2008) [Pubmed]
  39. Elements of the Drosophila bithorax complex that mediate repression by Polycomb group products. Simon, J., Chiang, A., Bender, W., Shimell, M.J., O'Connor, M. Dev. Biol. (1993) [Pubmed]
  40. Characterization of a homologue of bithorax-complex genes in the leech Hirudo medicinalis. Wysocka-Diller, J.W., Aisemberg, G.O., Baumgarten, M., Levine, M., Macagno, E.R. Nature (1989) [Pubmed]
  41. The bithorax complex of Drosophila melanogaster: Underreplication and morphology in polytene chromosomes. Moshkin, Y.M., Alekseyenko, A.A., Semeshin, V.F., Spierer, A., Spierer, P., Makarevich, G.F., Belyaeva, E.S., Zhimulev, I.F. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (2001) [Pubmed]
  42. The iab-7 polycomb response element maps to a nucleosome-free region of chromatin and requires both GAGA and pleiohomeotic for silencing activity. Mishra, R.K., Mihaly, J., Barges, S., Spierer, A., Karch, F., Hagstrom, K., Schweinsberg, S.E., Schedl, P. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2001) [Pubmed]
  43. Alternative ESC and ESC-like subunits of a polycomb group histone methyltransferase complex are differentially deployed during Drosophila development. Wang, L., Jahren, N., Vargas, M.L., Andersen, E.F., Benes, J., Zhang, J., Miller, E.L., Jones, R.S., Simon, J.A. Mol. Cell. Biol. (2006) [Pubmed]
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